Prison conditions in Turkey
The death of Serkan Tumay in a prison raised concerns on the prison conditions in Turkey once again. While Tumay's family says that he was tortured by prison guards repeatedly and died as a result in Kırıkkale F-Type Prison, opposition deputies Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Gülizar Biçer Karaca asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to explain how he died.
Turkey's Human Rights Association revealed that 20 inmates died in prison in Turkey during the first nine months of 2020. Data also showed that there are currently 1,605 sick prisoners in Turkey, 604 of which are seriously ill.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş hasn't been allowed to see his daughters in prison since the start of the pandemic, his wife said on Sept. 1. The renowned politician was barred from meeting with his daughters under the pretense of pandemic precautions, despite all safety measures being in place, Başak Demirtaş said.
The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has slammed prison conditions in Turkey, urging authorities to take "decisive action" against ill-treatment of police. The problem of prison overcrowding remained acute, the CPT said, and the steady increase in the size of the prison population already observed in the mid-2000s continued.
CHP MP slams justice ministry for not revealing number of coronavirus cases in prisons for nearly 50 days
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi has slammed Turkey's Justice Ministry for not revealing the number of coronavirus cases in prisons for nearly 50 days. "A heightening risk is in question at prisons, but the ministry is more concerned about hiding the number of cases than struggling against the virus," she said.
Imprisoned columnist from daily Yeni Çağ is being refused healthcare despite his grievances, his lawyer said. The journalist has reportedly been refused a visit to the infirmary for 20 days, and one to the doctor in 10 days.
A parliamentary question inquiring about the number of personal applications made to the Justice Ministry about prison torture incidents was left unanswered. Instead, the Justice Ministry noted the existence of a committee that "meticulously inspects" and "swiftly takes necessary" action about torture incidents.
Amnesty International started a campaign to urge Turkey's Justice Ministry to release journalists, opposition politicians and activists from prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The NGO noted that jailed prominent novelist Ahmet Altan and imprisoned businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala are both over 60, and former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, has been suffering from a heart condition in prison.
A deputy from the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said that inmates from the southeastern Bayburt Prison reported being given one mask to share among eight of them and a lack of hot water for the past two months. Inmates also reported prison guards who come in close contact with the inmates, violating COVID-19 measures.
Turkey’s social services experts and politicians agree that incarcerated minors are under increased risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the government should make an organized effort to protect them. Suggestions varied from releasing incarcerated children altogether to allowing unlimited phone calls.
According to an annual report on rights violations in the country prepared by the Human Rights Association (İHD), eight people were killed in unsolved murders in Turkey in 2019. "The last five years have become a period that the regime became increasingly authoritarian and the official ideology is being attempted to brought to life fully," the İHD said in the report released on May 5.
Inmates at southeastern Urfa prison have been reporting a serious shortage of cleaning supplies and a lack of precautions against COVID-19, a pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) deputy said. Prison guards also reportedly violate social distancing measures during their ward searches that they conduct in groups twice a week.
Mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı has thanked MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, who is a close friend of his, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a bill that paved the way for his release. He also called on the newly-released prisoners to act responsibly amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Jailed former Diyarbakir Mayor from pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selçuk Mızraklı was denied a petition to be released during the COVID-19 outbreak, to which he's particulary vulnerable due to a chronic heart condition. The Diyarbakir court refused to release Mızraklı on the grounds that his arrest and sentencing involved "special circumstances" and that there was no way to assure safety of his ongoing trial.
Three inmates in Turkey’s open prisons have died from COVID-19, while 17 others were diagnosed with the virus, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said April 13. All cases were in “open prisons” where inmates aren’t held in cells, with no cases seen in other correctional facilities, Gül noted.